Food Choice Criteria In Adolescents According To Obesity Status

Por: A. Dalkiranis, A. Fachantidou, A. Petrakis, M. Hassapidou, S. D. Papadopoulou e S. K. Papadopoulou.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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The prevalence of obesity in childhood and adolescence is increasing worldwide. Obese children and adolescents have higher possibility to become obese adults and to suffer from severe obesity and related chronic diseases (1,2). The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of obesity on the food choice criteria of adolescents.

The participants were 1003 students (495 boys and 508 girls) from High and Junior High schools in Thessaloniki, of mean age 14.6±1.5 years. The sample of our study was chosen with stratified sampling. Triceps and subscapular skinfolds were measured, in order to estimate % body fat, according to Slaughter et al. equations (3). The subjects were categorized according to their % body fat (4). Waist circumference/hip circumference ratio was used to measure fat distribution and estimate upper-body obesity. Dietary data was collected using a questionnaire regarding the motives that lead to a selection of a food (5,6). The SPSS (SPSS Inc. Rel. 10.0) computer program was used for the statistical analysis. Chi square (X2) test was used in order to assess the differences between subgroups. Statistical significance was set at p<.05.

The significant differences in food choice criteria according to obesity status are presented in table 1.


Adolescents with higher % body fat and adolescents with central obesity seemed to have more improper dietary criteria in comparison with non-overweight adolescents. Overweight adolescents were less interested in healthfulness and vitamin and mineral content of foods compared to non-overweight ones. Adolescents with central obesity considered more important easy access and high sugar content of foods in comparison with adolescents without central obesity. This finding comes in agreement with the study of Drewnowski & Greenwood where obese people were more inclined to foods with higher sugar and fat content (7). Contento et al. found that overweight adolescents considered easy access, healthfulness and vitamins and mineral content to be more important dietary criteria and fat and sugar content less important dietary criteria compared to non overweight adolescents (5). Further intervention programs are needed to yield information about changing the modifiable risk factors in adolescent obesity.

[1]. Cole A.H. et al. (1997). The British Journal of Nutrition, 7, 497-509.
[2]. Brown,D.K. (1997). Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management. In Dalton S (Ed.), Overweight and Weight Management (pp 497-525). Gaithersburg, Maryland: An Aspen Publication.
[3]. Slaughter M.H. et al. (1988). Human Biology, 60, (5), 709-723.
[4]. Lohman T.G. (1992). Advances in body composition assessment. Current issues in exercise science series. Monograph No. 3. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
[5]. Contento I.R. et al. (1995). Adolescent food choice criteria: Role of weight and Dieting status. Appetite, 25, 51-76.
[6]. Lappalainen R. et al. (1998). A pan EU survey of consumer attitudes to food, nutrition and health: an overview. Food Quality and Preference, 9, (6), 467-478.
[7]. Drewnowski A. & Greenwood MRC. (1983). Physiology & Behavior, 30, 629-633.

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